My first concert was in Japan on a little island called Sado in Niigata Prefecture, the band that was playing was Kodo a traditional Japanese drum group. I first was introduced to Kodo via an American movie titled ‘The Hunted’ starring Christopher Lambert, the opening theme song was a traditional ensemble played by the group Kodo. Kodo is comprised of several elements, various flutes of both Japanese and Chinese styles, standing large drums, small hand drums, double sided drums that are usually set on the shoulders, and the large mounted drum. All of these instruments are mixed with the voices of each member of the group in the form of chants and calls. Listening to Kodo on T.V. and C.D. brought to imagination so many stories of mystical creatures and mythical heros that I sought every opportunity I could to see one of there concerts, sadly to say at that initial state of interest I was living in the U.S. When I finally moved to Japan it had seemed Kodo had taken flight on me as they started to do international tours.
Then the time came in early two thousand and ten when I was transferred to Kanagawa Prefecture for job training. One of my co-workers who lives in Niigata invited me to visit his home and do a little fishing. So off I went to Niigata not thinking about visiting Sado island or even seeing Kodo, I was just excited to get out on the water and do a little fishing. The morning after I arrived, bright and early my co-worker and I set off into the Sea of Japan in his boat. It was still dark out when he finally stopped the boat and we started fishing. Right before sun rise I heard a lone shrill of a small reed flute cross the waves and pierce the fog, soon the low thumping of joined the flute and just as the sun broke the horizon a massive drum sounded breaking the calm just as a thunder clap would. Startled I ask may friend what that was and he replied ‘Nothing just we are near Sado Island and the band Kodo is putting on a concert for the local festival’. Another shock a I had totally forgotten that Kodo was from Sado and Sado was in Niigata Prefecture. I must have sat there and missing a few bites because I was mesmerized by the music cutting over the water, I remember several time closing my eyes and letting the music and the motion of the waves take over. Seeing images of graceful cranes landing and dancing in snow covered rice paddies, dragons stretching from their slumber in lofty mist covered mountains, or soldiers and sailors riding out a typhoon on the open seas.
Nearing ten in the morning as the fog broke and we could see Sado island the music stopped. After another half hour of not catching anything we decided to go over to the island and have lunch, my real intention was to find Kodo and see if their was another concert scheduled for that day. My luck soon got better, soon we found a small cafe and was ordering our food when on of the members of Kodo walked in and told the owner that another concert would take place at a nearby shrine at two in the afternoon. Suffice to say I talked my co-worker into sticking around and the show was even grander than I had thought. Mixed into the ensemble of music is also an ensemble of dance to go with the beats of the drums and flutes to further pull the mind into a mystical realm. In that one day I had experienced two concerts that opened up the mysterious world of Japan. Kodo is a must see if you ever get the chance to see their concert live, it is a hundred time better if you get the chance to see them play on the beach or a shrine here in Japan, everything merges together and produces and never ending story.